RYAN Noble will line up against Hartlepool United with Sunderland tonight (kick off 7.30pm) – and should Neale Cooper get his way then it might not be the last time he is seen at Victoria Park this season.
The Scot could not have been more impressed with the 21-year-old during his loan stint with Pools towards the back end of the last campaign.
Following his stay Cooper told SportMail, and more importantly Black Cats boss Martin O’Neill, that he would welcome Noble back to the Vic without a moment’s hesitation. O’Neill, though, is first keen to see what the former England youth international can achieve during a full pre-season on Wearside.
And the early signs are certainly positive, Noble enjoying a game-changing cameo with an assist and a superb, solo effort to clinch last week’s 3-2 win over Dutch outfit FC Groningen in South Korea.
Cooper is still in the market for a striker and is yet to settle on a partner for Steve Howard.
Noble – who scored twice from nine outings during his loan spell – would fit the bill, but Cooper believes the livewire frontman will be keen to first prove a point with tonight’s opponents.
“It doesn’t surprise me how well he’s done this pre-season,” the Pools first-team coach told SportMail ahead of the friendly clash. “He’ll want to make an impression over the summer because that’s the type of boy he is.
“I told Martin how well he’d done for us and I think Ryan appreciated that.
“I told Martin I could not have had a better boy.
“I’d heard mixed reports about him before he came but everything about him was fantastic.
“He’s one of the best lads I have ever worked with, I honestly mean that.”
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